Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Laura Iding Visits Seekerville


Hello! My name is Laura Iding and I write Medical Romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon. Thanks so much for inviting me to blog with you today.

I have a confession to make.

I had never read a medical romance before I sold my first book to Mills and Boon in December 2003.

I can hear the collective gasps from all of you reading this blog right now. What? How can this be? Doesn’t every editor and agent you meet at conferences tell you to read, read, read the various publishing houses to see what sorts of books they’re putting out and what sorts of manuscripts they may be looking for?

And don’t start thinking that I’m just one of those lucky people, because I’ve never won anything. Not random drawings out of a hat and certainly not the lottery.

Now I’m not telling you to ignore the sage advice you’ve been given by publishing professionals. I have always read romance. A lot of romance. I love romance! I’ve read mainstream romance and category romance for twenty years. So it’s not as if I was taking a total stab in the dark at the idea of writing a book.

But I do sometimes think authors who are striving to become published follow the rules to a fault. Or maybe you just haven’t broadened your ideas of what being published might look like. Are you convinced the genre you’re currently writing is the only one you want to do?

Sometimes I hear aspiring authors say, “I’m writing what I like to read.”
Clearly you need to know your market. But in my case, the road to publication took a bit of a detour that I hadn’t anticipated. And the detour went like this:
Setting: RWA National Conference in New York July 2003

Me: “Oh look, there was a spotlight on writing medical romance, but we just missed it, the session is already over.”

My Friend: “Yeah, but the editors are still standing over there. Quick, go up and talk to them.”

Me: “Okay, what could it hurt?” Step, step, step. “Hi, my name is Laura and
I’m a critical care nurse. I’m really sorry we missed your session on writing medical romances.”

Editor: “Oh a nurse! That’s wonderful. We love nurses and we’re really looking for American authors for our medical romance line.”

Me: “Well, I’ve never read a medical romance, but I have written several manuscripts aimed at the Intrigue line. I do have one that takes place in a hospital and the heroine is a nurse. Is that sort of what you’re looking for?”

Editor: “A hospital setting is great, but there really isn’t a lot of room for intrigue. We don’t want a complex mystery plot to detract from the romance. These books are relatively short and the focus should always remain on the conflicts and relationship building between the hero and heroine.”

Me: “Hmm. Well, I guess I could rip out the intrigue plot and throw in a little more romanc
e.” (Even though I wasn’t sure I could.)

Editor: “That would be wonderful! Here’s my card, why don’t you send me your complete manuscript when you’ve finished it?”

Me: (Taking the card) “Great. Thanks.”

And the rest is history, because that same book sold about three and a half months after I sent it to the editor of Mills and Boon located in England, with hardly any revisions. (A feat I have not quite mastered in the 17 books I’ve written since.)

I’ve been fortunate to have read a lot of great medical romance novels since I sold. And I’ve been pleased with the occasional fan e-mails I’ve been getting from readers, telling me how much they love my books.

So what’s the moral of this story? (I know you’ve been waiting for me to get to the point.)
I’d never aspired to be a medical romance author, in fact, working in a hospital seemed anything but romantic to someone who works there. But I did take advantage of the opportunity I was given and managed through my detour to fulfill my dream of becoming a published author. And with every book I’ve written since, I’ve learned to hone my craft. If I had followed my first instincts of thinking I wouldn’t be interested in writing medical romance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

So the moral is, open up your heart and your mind to all the publishing opportunities that are out there. If you do, maybe you’ll be soon living your dream too.

After all, isn’t romance (in all genres) all about the fantasy?

I’ll be around to answer your questions and to respond to your comments. Thanks for having me here, today.


Laura Iding has written 18 books for Harlequin Mills and Boon over the past five years. Her most recent book is Emergency: Single Dad, Mother Needed. She's excited to announce that later this year, she has a Cedar Bluff trilogy being published. The first book is due out in October, Marrying The Playboy Doctor, then in November, Expecting a ChristmasMiracle, and lastly in December, The Surgeon's New-Year Wedding Wish.

Seekerville Giveaway!!
Laura has graciously agreed to give away a copy of one of her Medical Romances to one lucky Seekerville guest who posts today. We'll release the name of the winner tonight at 8 pm, MST in the comments.


Tina M. Russo said...

Good Morning, Laura.

Welcome to Seekerville. We have a lovely tray of assorted French pastries and the espresso machine is on in your honor. Trying to be international here.

For our interested guests I am posting the guidelines for Medicals.

Length: 50,000 – 55,000 words
Senior Editor: Sheila Hodgson
Assistant Editor: Lucy Gilmore
Editorial Assistant: Laura Wheadon
All queries about submissions status should go to Elaine Lentell, administrative assistant.
Editorial Office: London, U.K.

Tina M. Russo said...

Now I have some questions for you, Laura. BTW I have already ordered several of your backlist.

1.How do you write for a line with an international flavor? Does this restrict your Americanism? What things were edited out when you first started writing for the line--things that someone from the UK might not GET.

2. Eighteen books in five years.(!!!!) You have an outside the home job too don't you? What kind of writing schedule do you

Ruth Logan Herne said...


What a great story that illustrates there's more than one road to publication. And you approached the editors without:

A. Wetting your pants (or you conveniently left that part out.)
B. Fainting
C. Blubbering
D. Breaking into a profuse sweat
E. Losing the ability to speak

I'm so impressed. ;)

I love that you never saw the 'romance' in working in a hospital. How true that is. Most of us recognize the grunge of our jobs, not the possibilities. Of course, having read Cherry Ames as a girl, I KNOW what goes on with you nurses, LOL!

Thanks for coming to Seekerville. We truly appreciate it, and I'm diving across you to get one of those almond pastries. One thing the French do right.



Anonymous said...

Good Morning Laura,
I am also in the medical field--a research nurse--and wondered. How would that kind of background play with Mill and Boon? I have a series dealing in medical research but held back from submitting there.

Patty Hall

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Laura! Congratulations on those 18 books! I'm impressed with your productivity. Any tips on time management?

Tina, thanks for providing the French pastries.


Jessica said...

Hi Laura, wonderful advice! Thank you. Your story sounds pretty fun, too.
Now that you've written so many in the same genre, do you ever thinking of trying a new genre, or did you fall in love with this one and want to stay for ever? :-)

Julie Lessman said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Laura -- I loved how you wrote this blog ... giving the setting and then the step-by-step at RWA -- I could just see it ... and so could every other aspiring writer who wished they'd done the same thing!!

I especially appreciate your line:
"But I did take advantage of the opportunity I was given and managed through my detour to fulfill my dream of becoming a published author."

I totally agree that we MUST "take advantage" of every opportunity that God brings our way, even if it is something we don't think we want to do (i.e. a nurse writing medical romance when her everyday medical life seems anything but romantic).

I actually did the same thing and inadvertently stumbled upon something that brings me more joy than almost anything else -- writing romance. You see, I desperately wanted to be a published author, but I was one of the romance snobs ... you know the type ... professional women who looked down on romance writers as 2nd-class citizens, B movie stars, the 2nd string. Romance has gotten such a bad rap over the years ... I mean, come on now, even Oprah almost NEVER features a romance. The world respects serious stories with serious problems, but a love story? Not unless it ends unhappily and shatters everybody who reads it.

So I say all of that to say -- you are dead-on when you said we have to "broaden" our ideas of what being published might look like. Go where the opportunities are ... because if you can write, you can write anything.

Whew ... sorry this is so long! Made the coffee a wee bit too strong I guess this morning.

Rose said...


Thanks for sharing your inspirational publishing story.

Can you tell us what it's like submitting to a foreign country? Is it handled all through email? Snail mail?


Edie said...

Waving hi, Laura! It was fun to hear your story again, in more detail. Great advice about opening up the heart and mind to unexpected opportunities.

Laura Iding said...

Wow, thanks for all the great comments already! (And Tina, thanks for the French pastries, yum.) BTW, the French love the medical romance line, apparently everyone in France have fantasy's about doctors, lol.

Tina, I actually try to keep my books fairly American, although they've slipped in a few English titles (The Firefighter and the Single Mum). Shelia, the senior editor of the line says to keep your stories global, meaning I guess the same emotional issues that would affect everyone.

So far it hasn't been too bad, I've been told to stay away from topics like the war in Iraq, because the UK and France have different opinions on that. But nothing major that has been edited out of my books.

I do work full time as a Risk Manager at our hospital (have to leave for work soon and will drop in between my meetings.) I tend to write on the weekends and do more editing during the week. Luckily for me, I'm a relatively fast writer. :)

Laura Iding said...

Dear Anonymous,

The main theme of medicals is that the hero and heroine should work together in a hospital setting. That being said, my first book broke that rule, the cop obviously didn't work in the hospital.

I think your research angle has great opportunities, you just have to give your characters a way to work together and interact together within that role. Honestly anything can work.

Laura Iding said...

Ruth, you are too funny. I was nervious, probably did babble a little but all in all, it worked.

Janet, thanks for having me here. I don't have a lot of time management advice other than scheduling your writing. By that I mean, I sort of plan throughout the week what things I'm going to do in the evenings. (Oh yes, did I tell you you can't watch TV? No time for that. :)) And then on the weekends, I set myself a three hour block of time to get a chapter done. If I'm good and plot things out ahead of time during the week, then the chapter goes pretty well. This works for me, may not work for everyone else.


Laura Iding said...

Hi Jessica,

I actually have recently sold to another line, Love Inspired Suspense. I'll be writing those books under the name Laura Scott. My first book comes out in November. Thanks for asking.



Laura Iding said...

Julie, I'm so glad my message resonated with you. I totally agree that sometimes we make our own luck. I love romance. I also love a happy ending. If the hero or heroine dies in the end that book is flying off the wall and I'll never read that author again.

Maybe because I work in a hospital, I see enough sad stories. I want to read about happy ones.


Laura Iding said...

Rose, thanks for stopping by. I sent my first manuscript global express, cost a pretty penny. But since that time, the editors have let me do everything through e-mail. So really submitting overseas isn't that bad. The past few years, the Richmond office of Harlequin has sent editors to the conferences so you can meet them at RWA. I'm sure there will be a few in DC this year.

Laura Iding said...

Hi Edie! It's good to hear from a fellow WisRWA member. Glad you stopped by.

I hope you make it through the next round of the American Title Contest. You know I'm totally rooting for you.


Patricia W. said...

The best "How I Got Published" stories are the ones stemming from unexpected opportunities. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us, Laura.

Melanie Dickerson said...

I've never read a Medical romance. Actually, the hero of my historical is a doctor. So you're saying I should be flexible and change it to a contemporary and send it to Mills & Boon? :-)

Put me in the drawing, please! Thanks!

Tina M. Russo said...

LI Suspense..two of our very own Seekers are LIS authors, Camy Tang and Debby Giusti.

Too cool.

Mary Connealy said...

Laura, what a great story. And way to have the nerve to speak up, think outside the box, "Where would my book fit." How can I be flexible and focus in a different direction.

Every writer can use this advice. Don't limit yourself.

Vince said...

Hi Laura:

Does ‘no TV’ mean not watching House?

Have you written any stories about midwives? I don’t think I’ve seen an American write one but they make good stories.


Audra Harders said...

Morning, Laura! Welcome to Seekerville! Tina and Ruthy offer only the best in coffee and pastries. Yumbola!

Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes reading, reading, reading to tailor manuscripts for lines and houses can destroy a fresh voice. I love that you approached the editors having NOT attended their talk. I'll bet they drooled over your uneffected voice!!!

Congratulations on 18 titles! Have you sent a copy to the Queen Mum??? LOL!

Enjoy your day here in Seekerville!

nm8r67 said...

i can relate on your lack of "luck". you really accomplished a lot with making the most of a surprising opportunity. i guess timing (and having an ms) can be major factors to success.

i really appreciate you sharing with us. thanks for the inspiration.


Donnell said...

Laura, your story is fantabulous! Laura may not remember but she helped me write (or at least get right one of my hospital scenes). 18 medical novels later, you continue to amaze me!

mareva said...

Thank you Laura for a true life "inspirational"...I was a clinical librarian in another life, and am writing medical marketing currently..I keep writing romances that turn into murders.....maybe too much expresso? Anyway, it is always wonderful to hear how someone has "made it", and to know that hard work, and a little luck can create writing careers..Maybe I need to take that murder mystery and see if it can be a medical romance...Thanks again for making my day...


Eileen Astels Watson said...

Thanks for sharing, Laura!

Makes me wonder how many opportunities we shy writers miss at writer's conferences by not stepping forward to just chat with editors and agents. I need to work on this.

Tina M. Russo said...

I have ordered your books and they have already shipped, so know I am going to do my homework.

But in the mean time...more questions...
So, basically one of the protagonists must work in a hospital or do they allow, clinics, rural physicians offices or clinicians not in the setting who happen to be medical care providers.

Tina M. Russo said...

Attention, Mary Connealy. You have bunny ears this morning. Does your publisher know this?

Tina M. Russo said...

Edie, welcome to Seekerville and congrats on your American Title standings.

Deb said...

Laura, thanks for being here & talking to us.

I'm wondering a couple of things: do they sell M&B Medicals in the US? Because I cannot remember seeing any.

Second--do the protags have to be a doctor and/or nurse? I work in a big teaching hospital and I would dearly love to set a romance in some of the paramedical and ancillary professions, where so much vital work to save people's lives is done...glamor behind the scenes, as it were.

Janice Olson said...

Laura, I enjoyed your story of becoming publshed. You are a inspiration of hope to all the nonpubbed writers.

Never having read a Medical story or one of your books, I would like to know if both protags' profession has to be hospital related, and what percentage of the scenes have to take place in the hospital?

Unlike you, I have no medical knowledge outside of some patch up jobs of kids and hubby, and a few stays in or visits to the hospital. Research is not a problem, but without medical knowledge wouldn't it be difficult to write with realism when a person isn't familiar with the day to day nitty-gritty of the hospital when writing medical stories?

Thanks for the wonderful information and for you answers in advance.

Much success in your writing.

Mary Connealy said...

I have surgery scheduled but for now, the ears are part of me.

I do love this picture though, the lighting or something, I think, takes years off my age.

Laura Iding said...

Thanks for all your enthusiasm everyone, I do appreciate it.

As far as medical settings, rural settings and small clinics can work just as well. I just tend to do hospitals because that's my experience.


Laura Iding said...

Hi Vince! Okay, you're right, I will admit to occassionally watching House. Not that I'd want to work with the man, but he is entertaining. :)

I personally haven't done Midwife stories, but many of the other medical romance authors have. My experience is trauma/critical care. From what I hear, the readers love midwife stories.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

This is totally great info, Laura. Seriously.

And Mary, you've never looked better in my humble opinion. Although you HAVE looked worse, darling.

Laura, I haven't seen the medical series locally either, but I wonder if that's because I haven't looked specifically. And the HQ website is great at providing statistical info but I'm grateful to Tina for giving us an initial heads up.

I love that you're able to write for both Love Inspired Suspense (waving to Camy, Deb and the other gals over yonder) and Medical. That's so cool. Was the name change to protect the brand of your name association with Medical Romance or give you some latitude with Love Inspired?

Or just good common sense?

And I've brought lunch. For you East Coast visitors, it's more like late-day snack, LOL! But I stopped by Panera Bread and the smell of fresh bread always puts me over the top.

I'm fairly sure there's fresh bread in heaven. I'm actually willing to take bets on it. ;)

So lunch is on Panera Bread BUT...

drinks are courtesy of Wal-Mart, pleased to be a Seekerville sponsor at long last. Since so many Seeker books and visitor books find sale space at America's biggest retailer, the smart people at Wal-Mart decided that partnering with Seekers was a smart move.

I agree! (Although land use restrictions do not allow us to build a Wal-Mart on Unpubbed Island. On the Island we're expected to take care of ourselves totally. Thank God for fresh coconuts and fish.

I'm sooooo tired of fish...)

So Wal-Mart supplied us with fresh coffee, desserts from their super center bakeries, and a limitless supply of Diet Snapple, Coke, Pepsi, and assorted soft drink collections.

I love Southern generosity!!!

Dig in, guys and gals, and if you need anything, just give a holler, y'hear?


Laura Iding said...

I love the bunny ears! Very cute.

One clarification, the hero and heroine should work together in some way, not necessarily the hospital setting, sorry about that.

I think the key is really to set up situations where the hero and heroine are forced together, especially since we all know that the plot has to drive the story and the conflict drives the romance. We want the characters to resist each other, but yet have plenty of opportunity to be forced together. Be creative because I do think that's exactly what the editors want is new and fresh ideas on how to achieve this.

Good questions everyone...


Laura Iding said...

Hi Camy and Debby (waving)! Good to see you here.

Debby is a wonderful person, she and I met a few nationals ago. I know Debby writes wonderful stories, I haven't read Camy yet but hope to soon.


Laura Iding said...

Hi Melanie,

Sure, give it a try! Actually lots of the harlequin lines are open to medical themes, so the possibilities are endless.

Good luck with your story.


Laura Iding said...


Of course I remember and I'm still open to helping out if you need me.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tina M. Russo said...

Laura, tell us a little about your LI Suspense. When is the release date on that? How did you switch gears from medical to suspense? Or does your suspense have a medical thread?

I imagine it is fun to flex your writing fingers into new avenues.

Laura Iding said...

Hi Deb,

Ancillary staff are fine in a medical romance, I've seen paramedics, cops, firefighters as heros. Heroines can be in any ancillary role. The readers tend to like a "larger than life" hero so I think if you can come up with a great story where the hero is a physical therapist then go for it.

As far as medicals being available in the US, only on the eHarlequin website I'm sorry to say. For some reason, despite ER, Scrubs, House, etc. the publishers don't think the US market is as open to medical romances. Of course, I'm always trying to change their minds.


Laura Iding said...

Hi Janice,

The good news is that these books don't have to have a lot of medical scenes, the focus really needs to be on the romance and the relationship. I know there are several medical romance authors who are not doctor's or nurses, but they probably have someone to help give some medical information clues. The Heartbeat chapter is a great resource too, lots of medical people in there.

The rural and clinic areas are very popular too. Just make sure the medical scenes aren't thrown in there just because, it's better if the situation has a purpose, making the hero or heroine realize something in their own lives or helping them to grow in some way.

Make sense? Or am I making this worse? :)


Pam Hillman said...

Enjoyed reading about your road to publication, Laura. Sounds like you fell into your niche with M&B Medicals.

Laura Iding said...

Hi Ruth,

I really changed my name more to protect the inspirational readers as I didn't want them to be upset with me. Most of my medicals have some love scenes in them, which may offend my LIS readers.

I am excited though to write for LIS and my November 2009 book is A Thanksgiving Target.

Thanks for asking,


Laura Iding said...

Hi Tina,

I've always loved suspense and so far, my LIS books don't have a medical thread. It's helpful for my muse to have a chance in pace once in a while. Helps keep me from falling into a rut.


Laura Iding said...

Eileen, I would agree that chatting with editors is a great thing to do at conferences. Remember they are people too.


Leslie Ann said...

I love it, "open your heart and mind to all publishing opportunities"...and opportunities in general may I add.

Congrats, Laura, keep on the great writing.

~LA from Five Scribes

Tina M. Russo said...

Laura, thank you so much for being with us today and generously sharing your insider information on Medicals.

We wish you continued success and will be looking for your books.

We'll draw a name for Laura's book at 9 MST and I will send the name and address to Laura at that time. So lurkers, you still have time to post.

Laura Iding said...

Thanks for inviting me, Tina. I've really enjoyed chatting with everyone. If you have more questions let me know, I'll check back tomorrow.


Cathy Shouse said...


Thanks for all the great information. I only recently learned about this line because of Dianne Drake. I think she writes these. Do you know her?

I think she's in an RWA group on medical romances. Are you in that and do you find it helpful?

Dianne is going to speak at the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie Indiana this summer if anyone is interested.

I'd love to win the book :)


Walt Mussell said...

This story of yur first book is incredible, but it sounds like a person taking advantage of the opportunity that was presented to them. We all have to be prepared to do that, I think, if we want to be successful writers.

Walt Mussell said...

That "yur" should be "your." :-)

Laura Iding said...

Hi Cathy,

Yes, I know Diane Drake very well. The medical group is called Heartbeat and there are some authors there who write medical inspirational stories, as well as the medical romance. Really we're open to any members and we are a good medical resource for members too, if they have medical scenes they need help with.


Laura Iding said...

Hi Walt,

Thanks for stopping by. I whole-heartedly agree. Like I said, it wasn't necessarily that I started out planning to write them, but I didn't want to let go of the opportunity too.

When they say networking is important in this business, they're really not kidding. It's the main reason I sold!


Tina M. Russo said...

Guess what was in the mailbox when I got home? The Surgeon's Secret Baby Wish. Wooohooo!!!

Tina M. Russo said...

The winner of one of Laura Idings's recent releases is Janice Olson. Janice please send your snail mail addy to


Missy Tippens said...

Laura, I'm late getting here. But welcome! Thanks so much for being with us today!! (Of course, I might have to throw a tantrum after reading your first sale story!!!) :)

Thanks so much for sharing. I actually do love first sale stories. :)


Camy Tang said...

How great to have you on Seekerville, Laura! I read one of your Medical romances and loved it! I'm looking forward to your LI Suspense coming out soon!

Laura Iding said...

Thanks Tina, for buying my book. I do hope you enjoy it. Now I'm nervous, lol!


Laura Iding said...

Missy, better late than never to stop by. And I sure hope you get your very own first sale story too.


Laura Iding said...

Camy thanks for the kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed my book. And I am anxious to read lots of Love Inspired books now that I'm writing for the line. I'll put you on my watch list (along with Debby Guisti.)


Bev said...

sounds like a great book. Would love to read it.